With nine teams in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, one squad has to be the odd one out. This week that distinction goes to the Hamline Pipers. There are plenty of intriguing series for this coming weekend. If you had to pick just one, go see St. Olaf taking on Gustavus Adolphus.
There is bad blood between these schools and they couldnâ€™t be more evenly matched. The records are almost identical and both teams play a similar style of fast-paced, good passing, and hard-hitting hockey.
The other interesting match-up is Bethel and St. Johnâ€™s as this could determine whether St. Thomas gets some competition for the conference title. Bethel needs to show it is going to contend for a title with St. Thomas by keeping pace with the Tommies. If Bethel canâ€™t handle St. Johnâ€™s they will have a hard time taking over first place.
St. Thomas and Chestnutâ€™s Roasting
Three weeks ago St. Thomas swept the defending conference champions, Bethel, and last week they crushed the number one team, Wisconsin-River Falls. Currently, they find themselves 6-1-1 and ranked seventh in the nation.
The Tommies made a statement a few weeks ago to the MIAC that they were the team to beat when they swept Bethel. Last week a statement was made to the rest of the D-III hockey world when St. Thomas beat River Falls, shutting the Falcons out, 5-0.
Tommiesâ€™ head coach Terry Skrypek came away from the Bethel series feeling good about his squad. In the first game, St. Thomas won 4-1 by limiting the Royalsâ€™ chances and finishing on its own.
In the second game, they found themselves down 2-0 going into the second period and were able fight their way back into the game. Although it let Bethel back into the game after taking a 5-3 lead, St. Thomas captured the victory in overtime.
â€œIt was great to see that we have the ability to comeback in the big games,â€ said Skrypek.
On his teamâ€™s shutout victory, Skrypek noted that the game was closer than the score indicated:
â€œWe got a few breaks on shots, two that were deflected and found the back of the net. Our goalie, Tyler Chestnut took two goals away from them, with two great saves.â€
Chestnut has been dynamite for St. Thomas this season. Currently, his numbers are in the middle of the pack among MIAC goaltenders but as the season continues he should make his way to the top.
Coach Skrypek feels very confident with Chestnut between the pipes: â€œHe is not a flashy goalie but always has great control of his movements in the net.â€
This is Chestnutâ€™s first year with the Tommies but the sophomore already has the teamâ€™s respect.
â€œThe players and Tyler have great chemistry. He is capable of stealing some games for us if we are not playing well,â€ remarked Skrypek.
St. Thomasâ€™ ethos is to not get overworked by any team. When asked if the Tommies could beat an East Coast team for a national championship coach Skrypek remarked:
â€œIf we are on our game, we can beat anyone on a given night. To win a national championship, we have to get better in certain areas. It is a long season, yet a short time from game to game.â€
If St. Thomas can continue its stellar play opponents are going to have a difficult time stopping this purple and silver squad.
MIAC Players of the Week
Offense: Senior Matt Hall (Bethel) recorded three goals and three assists last weekend against Augsburg as the Royals swept the Auggies 5-0 and 4-2. Hall currently has seven goals and nine assists this season.
Goaltender: Sophomore Aaron Damjanovich (Bethel) led the Royals to a sweep against Augsburg by recording 65 saves and allowing only two goals in the series. Damjanovich has a 2.57 goals against average and a .920 save percentage on the season.
This Weekâ€™s Schedule
Augsburg vs. No. 7 St. Thomas
Overall Records: AUG — 0-7-1 (0-4-0 MIAC); STU — 6-1-1 (2-0-0 MIAC).
Top Wins: AUG — none; STU — Bethel and Wisconsin-River Falls.
Top Scorers: Ben Bradbury (1-5-6); STU — Nick Pernula (4-9-13).
Goaltenders: AUG — Adam Hendel (4 GP, 0-3-1, 3.44 GA, .887 SV%); STU — Tyler Chestnut (8 GP, 5-1-1, 2.31 GA, .909 SV%.
Bethel vs. St. Johnâ€™s
Overall Records: BU — 7-2-0 (3-2-0 MIAC); SJU — 4-5-1 (2-1-1 MIAC).
Top Wins: BU — Marian; SJU — St. Olaf.
Top Scorers: BU — Matt Hall (7-8-15); SJU — Joel Stacklie (5-9-14).
Goaltenders: BU — Aaron Damjanovich (7 GP, 5-1-0, 3.05 GA, .910 SV%); SJU — Vince Wheeler (10 GP, 4-5-1, 2.58 GA, .896 SV%).
Concordia vs. St. Maryâ€™s
Overall Records: CONC — 1-6-0 (0-2-0 MIAC); SMU — 2-5-2 (2-2-0 MIAC.)
Top Wins: CONC — Wisconsin-Eau Claire; SMU — Gustavus.
Top Scorers: CONC — Kirby Markowsky (3-2-5); SMU — Anthony Bohn (2-7-9).
Goaltenders: CONC — Jeremy Boniface (6 GP, 1-4-0. 3.82 GA, .900 SV%); SMU — Dan Smith (9 GP, 2-5-2, 4.21 GA, .898 SV%).
Gustavus vs. St. Olaf
Overall Records: GAC — 4-4-0 (2-2-0 MIAC); SOC — 4-3-2 (2-1-1 MIAC)
Top Wins: GAC — St. Norbert; SOC — Tied Wisconsin-River Falls.
Top Scorers: GAC — David Martinson (5-9-14); SOC — Nick Stalock (9-5-14).
Goaltenders: GAC — Matthew Lopes (3 GP, 2-1-0, 1.34 GA, .935 SV%); SOC — Brycen Eberwein (5 GP, 2-2-1, 3.91 GA, .883 SV%).
12/11 Bethel vs. Wis.-Superior (nc)
12/12 Gustavus @ St. Johnâ€™s (nc)